On a cold December afternoon last year I decided to step out of the grey Toronto chill and check out the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music Library. As I walked down the stairs to the library, I realized that I had no idea what to expect – would there be sound recordings, sheet music, heck what was a music library anyway?
Once inside I found that I had been right on most counts. The University of Toronto Faculty of Music Library houses books about music, sheet music and scores, recorded music, and listening booths. Also, some pretty awesome musician statues (pictured above) at the entrance.
There were so many materials (the library houses the largest music research collection in Canada) that a number of the library shelves seemed about to burst at the seams, as if unable to contain the volume of musical materials they were holding.
The over-crowded shelves along with the out of date furnishings give the library a strong retro/academic ambiance that was well-suited to the intense musical conversations I overheard between students while wandering around. And while regular library users might be clamoring for a more modern setting, library tourists such might appreciate the nostalgic throw-back to the academic libraries of their youths (or is that just me?).
Unfortunately I didn’t have more time to linger in the library because if I had, I would definitely have looked into visiting the Olnick Rare Book Room which houses first edition manuscripts by famous composers and early Canadian musical artifacts. I would also have attempted to listen to some of the library’s vast recorded music collection and can easily imagine loosing hours in one of the listening stations. As it was, I had family and friends to see and had to move on, but if you find yourself having to escape the cold in downtown Toronto (a relatively common occurrence), the University of Toronto Faculty of Music Library is not a bad place to do it.
For more information about the library, visit their website at http://guides.library.utoronto.ca/musicresearch